Talk to Tibetan leaders, India urges China

April 23rd, 2008 - 8:54 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Taslima Nasreen

New Delhi, April 23 (IANS) Nearly a week after the smooth passage of the Olympic torch here, India Wednesday urged China and Tibetan leaders to resolve issues between them “through dialogue and not force.” “Issues should be resolved through dialogue between Tibetan leaders and the People’s Republic of China and not through force,” External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee told journalists attending an orientation course on foreign policy coverage at the parliament library here.

“Both sides should discharge their responsibilities (in resolving the crisis),” he replied when asked about the government’s position on the unrest in Tibet last month.

Following China’s tough response to riots in Lhasa, which Beijing blamed on Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and his followers, India had expressed distress and asked both sides to resolve the issue through dialogue.

In a diplomatic tightrope, the minister reiterated New Delhi’s considered position of recognizing Tibet as an autonomous region of China since 1959, but added that the asylum given to the Dalai Lama and the presence of 186,000 Tibetan exiles in the Indian territory was not a contradiction in its policy.

“The Dalai Lama is our guest and our giving shelter to 1.86 lakh Tibetans is not a contradiction in our policy,” he said.

“From the Dalai Lama to Taslima Nasreen (the controversial Bangladeshi writer who sought refuge in India and is now in Europe), whoever has sought shelter India has been given (it). We believe in the fact that the universe is our friend,” the minister stressed.

This was the first pronouncement made on Tibet by a senior minister since India pulled out all stops to ensure a largely peaceful passage of the Beijing Olympic torch through the capital April 17 amid unprecedented security.

The Chinese leadership has praised New Delhi for ensuring a successful relay of the Olympic torch and repeated it when Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon met Chinese officials in Beijing this week.

“They also brought up the larger issue of Tibet and told us how they see it,” Menon said after talks with Chinese officials Tuesday.

“We will neither allow anyone to break the laws of our country nor allow attacks on a friendly country from our soil,” he said.

“They [the Chinese] have already seen how it works in practice,” he said when asked whether Beijing was satisfied with New Delhi’s position.

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